I’ve not worked or been involved with anything at P&G but from what I have read and heard from a few second hand sources I am very impressed with the CIO Fillipo Passerini and his emphasis on how communication and data are changing how organisations do business.
Lets start with the premise that the IT landscape has fundemtnally changed over the past 5 years and you need different skill sets within your department (WSJ)
The focus on business has become extremely important. An IT professional can transform the way business is done. This is very, very different from the profile of the people we would hire five or more years ago.
The IT department is no longer the king of technology. Consumerisation has created a push business model where business people are constantly knocking on a CIO’s door. IT has to embrace this change, if you don’t the business will find someone who will.
From a Unified Communications persepctive it is interesting that a CIO with such a vision highlights video conferencing as a key aspect of an IT provision (IW);
Another example is the ability for people to video-connect anytime, anywhere, any place, because we are a truly global operation. We may have teams working on a new business initiative in China, a commercial plan is developed in Europe, and commercialization [happens] in the U.S. For these people to come together instantaneously without having to fly or without having to plan—this is what is going to enable us.
I think you could take the above paragraph from 95% of the Fortune 500 and it would be an accurate statement of how they are wanting to operate. They are literally turning their organisational model inside out. Yet if I was to survey those Fortune 500 I’m willing to bet that a significant number of them will complain about their video conference estate. Even with significant investment most large organisations believe their VC estate is too cumbersome to operate, not fit for purpose and doesn’t have the required network to support. You then often find the IT department state that video is just a gimmick that no uses anyway. Well here is a CIO that is as close to the business as he can be and he’s committed to delivering high quality video to as much as the work force as possible.
Moving away from communication and onto data. P&G want to invest in real time data. I’m fully committed to this aim as well. Consumers are living in real time. They comunicate with their friends and families in seconds yet they typically communicate with the businesses they buy from in days and weeks (and on a separate point they communicate with their governments in months and years but that is a different story). This will not be acceptable in the communication age. For a business to respond in real time their data has to be accurate and available in real time (IW);
In terms of data, this strategy needs the right real-time data. What’s real time? The goal P&G’s working toward is that as soon as data is collected, it’s available for use, Passerini says. P&G isn’t after new data types; it still wants to share and analyze point-of-sale, inventory, ad spending, and shipment data. What’s new is the higher frequency and speed at which P&G gets that data, and the finer granularity. Passerini says P&G has about two-thirds of the real-time data it needs.
If P&G really do have 2/3 of data in real time they are probably producing significant competitive advantage within the market place. My experience with large organisations is that they often don’t even know where their data is or what they are generating let alone have it available in real time (WSJ);
The other example is the ability to predict, do modeling and “what if” analysis. We’re creating some automation to [analyze] what is happening, why it is happening, so that we can focus all of our energies on how to improve what we have to improve. This will give us an ability to predict or to stay in control of sales volume, market shares, much, much better and be more specific, surgical, in the interventions we make.
In my view P&G have the exact blueprint for an IT department:
- Find business people who can talk IT and employ them rather than IT personnel. There may not be that many available on the market but its ok you don’t need too many to run a large IT department
- Concentrate and focus investment on real time data and communication
- Don’t fight consumerisation – ride it and use it
- Continue to cut costs in the department and invest those savings
In the articles Passerini didn’t mention the normal fodder for CIOs, such as; data centres, service levels, security but I guarantee they are the issues that under performing IT departments land on their CIO every day. I know where I’d rather be focusing my time on.